Here is a quick list of points about handling claims under consumer guarantees. Consumers can claim:
- if goods are not of ‘acceptable quality’;
- if goods are not fit for their intended purpose;
- if goods do not correspond with their description;
- if goods do not comply with a sample;
- if goods don’t comply with the manufacturer’s warranty; if services are not rendered with due care and skill;
- if services are not fit for their intended purpose;
- if services are not provided within a reasonable time.
They may be entitled to repair or replacement or the cost of repair or replacement – it depends on the circumstances.
Supplier must be careful in documents and communications with a consumer not to represent falsely or misleadingly that the consumer does not have rights under the consumer guarantees. Otherwise ACCC could prosecute and consumer or ACCC could seek civil awards.
Ultimately, the consumer must prove the goods or services contravene the guarantees. If the supplier does not agree that there is contravention, the consumer is put to proof.
Mentioning the ACL in the product warranty information is useful.
If a consumer makes a claim under manufacturer warranty, the supplier is not obliged to mention the ACL. However, it is a narrow line. If the circumstances are such that a supplier’s response is likely to mislead or deceive if it does not refer to the ACL then the supplier should refer to it.
For example, if a consumer asks specifically what their rights are in relation to a faulty product, it would be a half-truth to refer only to the manufacturer’s warranty.
Manufacturers do not have to deal with consumers directly. They can refer claims to suppliers.
A representation can be false (and misleading or deceptive) even if the representor honestly believes it to be true. A supplier’s staff need to be knowledgeable about the ACL.
Suppliers need to train those staff who will deal with claims so they don’t misrepresent the position about consumer guarantees.
(prompted by ACCC v LG Electronics Australia  FCAFC 96)